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More WWDC 2006 Student Experiences

Just came across another report from a "Student" at WWDC 2006. It's one of the mekentosj guys (who won their second Apple Design Award this year, and took apart the cool glowing trophy two years ago). I'm putting "Student" in quotes because they're actually defending their theses in a month and ten days... Still, it's a nicely detailed report that mentions some more interesting stuff I forgot, left out or didn't actually experience. One fun fact is that one of the students he met actually stayed at the hostel with me :-)

While I'm back yakking about WWDC, I also read some postings complaining about the security folks at WWDC this year, and thought I'd chime in here with another opinion. I didn't really make many bad experiences. Yes, they didn't have the friendliest tone, and yes, they did insist on you turning your badge around, and yes, one guy told me to put it around my neck, but IMHO they were well within reason. You are not allowed to enter without a badge, and as such I understand they want to keep them clearly visible for faster processing.

And whoever it was that expected them to let him through because he'd come through here all week long (can't find the URL right now), I think it's an unrealistic expectation. There were what, 4000 people there? And even if it was only 400, how could anyone actually remember, the face of every person there if they only walked past for one or two seconds?

Would Apple do good to print double-sided badges? Yes. Especially since I could more easily learn my new acquaintances' names. But it really wasn't complain-worthy.

If I had to pick something to complain about, it would probably be the food. The first two days were great, but then they introduced a "fast track" with boxed, cold lunch, and subsequent days they only had "fast track" lunch anymore. Also, if you didn't want incredibly sweet soft drinks (and I count the Odwalla stuff among those, too ... even juice in tourist traps in Greece isn't as sweet and watery as that), coffee or black tea (as if *I* need something to excite me even more at WWDC...), you were pretty much relegated to tap water. Luckily there was a water cooler in one of the presentation rooms.

They did hurry a lot when closing down the conference, though. We were sitting in the hall talking and doing a last mail check when someone walked up and called out: "We're turning off WLAN, please pack up and leave!". Yeah, at least they know how to make geeks leave :-)

Update: Added the link to one of the two postings I read. Also came across another posting on WWDC that popped up at TidBits. Admittedly, I don't have past WWDC experiences to compare against (though of course the bag is a little too soft and not as cool as an iSight), but I think Matt is complaining needlessly about the Latin. It's not very original, but it's a joke that wouldn't have been funny if it said "veni, vidi, scriberam", or whatever the correct translation would have been.

But yeah, his food description makes it sound even worse to me. I was under the assumption that this was a US-American thing -- that they just tended to have very sweet and artificial drinks.

What he says about developers not being as important to Apple anymore fits with my impression of something else: If you look at the way Apple starts integrating more and more software with the OS, it seems that Apple eventually wants the market for themselves. Note that eventually is meant in a very long-term way. It's logical:

They want to make the computer a device you can use at home, easily, without gaps or hiccups. They want to control the entire experience. They're already doing that by selling hardware and operating system (and some software) together. I don't think they'll do that in the next couple years, and they will probably (hopefully!) not do that for the entire product line either.

But it may well be that a future iMac will be like a TV (or maybe more like current cell phones), with a limited set of Apple-approved apps on it. As a user, I think that's a good idea. Most users in this future won't install software on their Macs, just like most people these days don't tinker with their car. As a developer and a professional Mac user in various capacities, I like it less. We'll see what comes up, but when people talk about the computer as a commodity, what they're talking about should really be computers like that, not just the Dells and HPs of the world.

Update 2: Some more comments that I left at Scott Stevenson's article on the WWDC decline discussion:

I also went to the conference for the conference, but being a student, free food was important to me, and I agree that the boxed lunch they served got worse and worse as the show went on. I'm usually of the swavian mindset that I'd rather get indigestion than leave food on the plate, but this was the first time I threw away food that was still (technically)good. Even the apple in the turkey sandwich box tasted horribly artificial. But the earlier boxed lunches were pretty decent.

Also, pretty much everyone at the conference already had a laptop bag anyway, so I consider it unnecessary spending that only made more people walk around with two bags the first day... it's a decent freebie, though, and I keep it as a souvenir. So, no real reason to decry a decline of WWDC there either.

The Pizza they served at the Student Reception at least was pretty nice (nothing to write home about, but nice), and the "dried pastry" was only dried if you didn't pick it up when everybody else did.

Reader Comments: (RSS Feed)
Alexander Griekspoor "Student" ;-) writes:
Hi Uli, Luckily for us the defence is still a month and ten days away ;-) I did see you at the student sunday with the shirts you already presented before in your blog, it just didn't came from it to meet you in person, unfortunately there were to many other things going on at the same time. I just wanted to chime in and say that I fully agree with your post. Yes, security people were a bit harsh, but nothing too. They just did their best to make things roll smooth. And I personally witnessed that these people were specifically instructed to do so by people from Apple... The food was indeed not too good, and yes the drinks much too sweet indeed. But those were the same as last year. People shouldn't moan so much, they just tend to forget that compared to two years ago there are about a 1000 people more crammed in the same space.. (and yes, you could notice that difference clearly this year). Also, what do people think organizing this thing costs, renting the building alone is enormously costly. Someone who I'm sure knows told me that Apple has to PAY a considerable amount of money per attendee to make this possible. While everyone thinks the $1600 dollars they pay (yes its a lot!) covers the costs. NOT! So if the number of attendees goes up from 3600 to 4200, that money has to come from somewhere right? Anyway, I had a great time, and complaining about the latin on the t-shirt, come on, I agree with you, that's really pathetic. Hope to catch you next time in person! Cheers, Alex
Peter Hosey writes:
That's actually a Matt Neuberg post, not an Adam Engst post.
Uli Kusterer replies:
@Peter: Thanks, I corrected the mention of Adam. I never met Matt, but I had the fortune of meeting Adam at ADHOC (aka MacHack) 2004, so every time I read TidBits I see Adam in front of me, guess that got into the text. @Alexander: Ooops. I'll fix that in a moment, sorry. I actually could have tried to talk to you as well. Jorris mentioned to me that he was hanging out with you guys, but while I remembered the domain name, I didn't put it together with the stuff you'd done at that moment, and at the ADA only your names were up, and not "Mek and Tosj", so I just thought: Where have you heard that name before ... :-S Anyway, It's not looking like I'll be at WWDC next year, but you're on the same continent as me, so maybe other meeting opportunities will arise... Fully agree with you on the rest (well, I wouldn't have said "pathetic", but the rest of the rest).
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